Saturday, April 22, 2017

State of Forces

I ran one of these pictures only a couple of days ago, but I think it's worth seeing them together.

March against Trump today:


Pro Trump march last week:
We've been lied to so systematically about which side the American people are really on, with billions of dollars of Republican money spent to push the myth, and a willing press to pump it out.

Do not believe it.  Republicans win elections through massive smear campaigns, totally lying about what they and their opponents advocate, and pervasive vote rigging all across this country.  Now this has been augmented with their treasonous collaboration with a foreign dictator who wants to prevent any strong leadership in this country, and what you see above turns into electoral victories for a party that works against every interest of the American people.  Sad to say, it's worked out great  for them; digital age sabotage of democracy has proven far easier than even their worst backers thought it would be. It didn't take a few hundred thousand brownshirts; just a couple thousand trolls paid for by a foreign government, and a few hundred rich sociopaths willing to finance the collapse of their own government.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Another Party Heard From

From Yahoo UK News today:

"Russia sends troops to North Korea border as tensions escalate...A report from primemedia.RU claims: ‘Railway trains loaded with military equipment moving towards Primorsky region via Khabarovsk have been noticed by locals.

A military official added: ‘The movement of military equipment by different means of transport to southern areas is being observed across Primorsky region over the past week.’

The movement comes only a day after Russia and the US clashed at the UN over a UN security council statement, drafted by the US, which condemned North Korea’s latest failed test."

Not totally confirmed yet, but that's all we need- another superpower being sucked into the morass Trump has created by his grotesque mishandling of North Korea's government.  North Korean leaders have been acting in the same belligerent manner for decades, and every previous President, even the village idiot George W. Bush, has managed to respond in an adult manner.  No more, I guess.

We do not have quite the same entangling web of treaty obligations that we saw in the runup to World War I, but I do not think I am being unfair to see a similar phenomenon, where a number of world powers are being dragged into what should be a regional matter of little concern outside the area.  We can see, I think, North and South Korea as Bulgaria and Romania in 1914, countries of small consequence, but whose long standing alliances with the world's great powers are risking a cataclysmic collapse into violence.

I would like to say a little more about this comparison.  I have spent a lot of the last decade reading about the runup to World War I, going back to the unification of Germany in 1871.  I now believe that the war was not, in the end, about the Balkans at all, but about the death throes of European colonialism.  Until 1871, there were three "great powers" in Europe; England, France and Russia.  England and France had far flung colonial empires, and Russia had everything east of the Urals, as a sort of internal colony.  The unification of Germany began a game of musical chairs, in which four countries now competed for the colonies of three.  This caused tensions to rise dramatically, with numerous colonial struggles, such as the Agadir crisis, the struggle for European colonies and trade centers in the Pacific, or the fighting between England and France over the Sudan, bringing the world closer and closer to the cliff edge.  The Balkan crisis was really about colonialism too, with the "great powers" struggling over territories that were slipping away from the decaying Ottoman Empire.  There were two Balkan wars in the period before World War I.  We in the West tend to hear about nothing but Serbia and the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, but things were far more treacherous in Romania and Bulgaria.  Romania was primarily a Catholic, Western oriented country, and Bulgaria had a population of Slavs, primarily in the Orthodox church, who had natural associations with the Slavic, Orthodox country of Russia.  When the Ottomans began to lose their control over the Balkans, the two countries turned to their natural allies, and a ready made conflict of big countries was provided.

Here's a map of the Balkans from just before the Balkan wars; sorry that it's not in English, but I think it's easy enough to identify the countries involved:


What I have said in the above paragraph is a great simplification of the complex conditions that led to World War I, but I think it does show how great powers were sucked into what should have been a local affair.  We have, I think it is safe to say, a very similar alignment on the Korean peninsula today, with the Western powers being naturally aligned with the Capitalist South, while Russia and China have both historical and political connections with the North.  So, when Austria attacked Serbia, which by all rights it should have conquered in weeks, and then utterly muffed their invasion, in the greatest military blunder of the twentieth century, the resulting quagmire drew countries one by one to the aid of their smaller allies, and, as they would say at Scotland Yard, Bob's your uncle.

If Trump does decide to launch an attack against North Korea, as he is so obviously hungering to do, does anyone have the confidence that he could go for the quick kill?  An attack there that stretched out to more than a few days could easily draw the great powers into the struggle, with the most catastrophic results.  And Trump's obsession with appearance over substance would almost guarantee that whatever action the US took would collapse quickly into military catastrophe at least as great as that which overcame Bush's Iraq aggression, which incidentally was the greatest military blunder since the Austrian invasion of Serbia, with the possible exception of Hitler's fumbling the attack on Stalingrad.

So, there you have it.  If you wanted to write a novel about the start of World War III, there's a perfectly believable plot line for you.  Will it happen?  Probably not, because the worst rarely does happen, but it has happened twice in the last century or so, and that is without a patently mentally incompetent leader to lead the world into the abyss.  We'll see how it all goes.

The Man Who Would Be King

Here is a story that has bothered me for some reason, but seems to have been taken by the mainstream press as just a minor aberration in Donald Trump's behavior.  Trump has a visit to England planned in the fall.  As part of his trip, he has demanded that he be allowed to ride along with the Queen in the royal coach.
Maybe it is difficult for someone without familiarity with the country to appreciate what a colossal insult this is- it's like demanding that he be allowed to wear the crown.  You could, I suppose, just chalk this up as another example of Trump's pathological need to bully and humiliate everyone he comes in contact with, and that would be true; but I think there is more to it than that.

I commented a little while ago about Trump's replacing his top advisers one by one with members of his own family.  My thought was that, as he has taken power, his megalomania has grown, and merely being President is not enough for him.  He is coming to think of himself as the founder of a dynasty, or to be blunt, a King rather than a President.  Seen in this light it is hardly surprising that he is now insisting that he be treated exactly like real royalty.  Expect to see more of this sort of thing, as his frustration with the limitations of his position grow, and he attempts to assert his right to do whatever he damned pleases, even to the point of handing the country to his family in perpetuity.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Short Posts

I've noticed that I hardly seem to post anything these days but really short stories.  This bothered me until I looked at the current news, and realized that there is hardly any analysis needed for things like this:

President of United States says that Korea used to be part of China

Senior Republican says it's okay for the United States to destroy the countries of China, Japan and North and South Korea, as long as we are okay.

Top on air personality at smear factory gets $200 million dollars to lie the American people into electing a dictator, gets fired, but not for that.

President lies to world about where he is sending our navy, in order to bully a foreign country.

Vice President says that it's okay to murder foreign people, in order to send a lesson to other foreign people.

President has as a guest at the White House a person who threatened to shoot his opponent.

President makes remarks indicating he doesn't know the difference between the head of North Korea and the guy's father.

All against a background of new information every couple of days proving that Trump is a Russian traitor, which the press does everything it can to ignore.

And let's remember that all of this covers endless efforts by the Republican party to destroy Social Security, Medicare, environmental and health care regulation and every other thing that benefits anyone but the few hundred rich psychopaths that fund the Republicans.

There just isn't anything complicated about these stories.  They add up to a tale of a once meaningful political party that has willingly turned itself into a corrupt criminal enterprise in league with the nation's enemies.  It's been coming for decades now. Either you are willing to see it (apparently about 5% of the population) or you aren't, but the evidence is right there for anyone to see, and doesn't need complicated reasoning to explain.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

No Excitement Here About O'Reilly

So everyone on the left is so excited that Bill O'Reilly is leaving Fox News.  Not me, no sir.  Consider the reality of O'Reilly's career there.

He worked for Fox News for about 20 years, spewing the most vicious pack of hatred and lies he possibly could.  For this he was paid millions; his salary at the end being about $18 million a year. So let's be cautious here and guess that, over the years this scum was paid about $200 million for his contribution to the country's well-being.  Just before leaving, he signed a new contract with Fox News, which they are apparently going to honor, perhaps netting him another $60 or $80 million.  And now that he is gone, he will just be replaced by one of ten thousand essentially identical right wing robots who are willing to sell their souls to the devil.

Not a bad deal for O'Reilly, who must have known his dirty deal couldn't last forever; Fox has made him rich beyond anything he could have ever imagined, and he doesn't need to do a thing he doesn't want to do for the rest of his life.

And, really, not much of a victory for the rest of us.

Moderate Republican Takes a Stand

Lindsey Graham, one of the two Republican Senators alleged throughout the mainstream media to actually be sane, spoke out today about Donald Trump's infantile warmongering:

"Yes, it would be terrible, but the war would be over there, it wouldn't be here...It would be bad for the Korean peninsula, it would be bad for China, it would be bad for Japan, it would be bad for South Korea, it would be the end of North Korea but what it would not do is hit America"

An unprovoked military aggression by the United States might result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people in four countries, cause massive destruction and result in political disruption and a refugee crisis similar to what we are now seeing in Syria.  But who cares?  None of these people belong to the groups the Republican party panders to, and let's not forget that none of their citizens are white.  So who cares who we kill, as long as we can reverse the decay of support for the worst President in history, and help the Republicans hang on to power, regardless of how criminal they are?

This sort of reasoning truly justifies comparison with the Nazis.  And this is the view of the moderate end of the Republican party.  And remember, the Nazis had a real ideology, however contemptible, which they really believed in.  These guys are doing it for nothing but money and power.


Didn't Work

I guess I should note that Trump's popularity in the newest Pew poll hit 39%, the first time it has dropped below 40% in this poll, and in fact the lowest number a President in his first term has ever hit in the Pew poll.

Those bombs didn't work to stop his slide into Dick Cheney poll territory.  Well, I guess there is only one place for him to go now:
And I wish I could say I am kidding.  I guess there is an actual chance that the military would refuse Trump's demand to unleash a nuclear weapon on some innocent country, but that is just about our only hope, as Trump made it clear in intelligence briefings that he cannot for the life of him figure out a reason not to launch a first-strike nuclear weapon. If things keep going bad for him, we are very rapidly going to reach the point where starting a real, hot war is his only option to preserve himself, and we sure as hell know that the fate of anyone else won't play a part in his calculations.

Where in the World is Carl Vinson

The disappearing carrier strike group!  Last week, Donald Trump threatened North Korea by claiming that the strike group built around the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson was on its way over there, to threaten the North Koreans with bombing raids and God knows what-all.
Well, there they are, but not on their way to North Korea.  Turns out they are going to the Indian Ocean, to participate in long-planned annual exercises with the Australian navy.

So the world is now burdened by two nuclear armed lying bullies, each threatening the other with war, and each lying through his teeth, for the real purpose of inciting support for war among his populace.  No matter that their attempts to maintain a grip on their positions are each directed at a mentally unstable adversary with the power to do immense harm and, apparently, without much understanding of the risks of their bullying.

As I have mentioned, it's sort of like the Cuban missile crisis, if John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khruschev had been mentally disturbed, violence prone idiots.  And isn't it interesting to see our mainstream press contort itself in an effort to pretend that it's all business as normal?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Murder

We have just learned this, from our Vice President:

“Just in the past two weeks, the world witnessed the strength and resolve of our new president in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan,” Pence warned. “North Korea would do well not to test his resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region.”

The bombing in Afghanistan may have killed close to a hundred people; we do not know about casualties from the Syria bombing.  These people were killed to send a message to another country eight thousand miles away.  That is not a military response; it is murder.

I'm not going to waste my time or yours raving about what our country should do about a President who is nothing but a common thug and murderer; we all know that.  It is not going to be done, and I guess that is the end of the story, at least until he leads us into carnage we can't back out of.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Trumpsters On The March

Just for the record, there was a pro-Trump march in Philadelphia today.  And here it is:

How long will our mainstream press go on pretending that the Trump wave was anything but a one day phenomenon, generated by billions in spending by right wing sociopaths and a foreign dictator?

Sigh, probably forever, or at least until the nuclear weapons start going off.  They really will destroy the world for a few months of profits.

Insanity Reigns

I don't have much to say these days, because it is all so obvious, but can I remark what a terminally dysfunctional country we live in when Trump actually didn't voluntarily start a nuclear war this week, and it is interpreted as a move to the center?

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Least Interesting Massive Mainstream Press Firestorms of the Month

Will Trump keep Steve Bannon, or will he fire him and replace him with someone equally nauseating?  Will Trump keep Sean Spicer, or will he fire him and replace him with someone equally nauseating?  Will the Republicans keep Paul Ryan, or will they fire him and replace him with someone equally nauseating?

They can play this game forever, and they will.  Every time they kick someone under the train, the ever-cooperative mainstream press will have a thousand opportunities to write stories about how now, everything has changed, and it is our duty to love and obey Trump, and give Congressional Republicans everything their masters want.  This, apparently, is how you create a successful Republican government.

If success is defined Mugabe style as staying in power for years, in a country that you drive further into ruin every single day you are in control.